Xiaomi is back doing what it does best, flooding the mainstream smartphone market with a ton of options. No matter what your budget, there’s a Redmi phone for you. We’ve seen plenty of other companies adopt this strategy as well, and while it creates a confusing mess, it also means there’s plenty to choose from.
Take the new Redmi Note 11S for example. This is a 4G only smartphone, which is a bit strange at first since the Redmi Note 11T 5G (Review) came before it had 5G support. The main attraction here is the 108-megapixel rear camera. This is the same sensor used on the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max last year, but now Xiaomi is offering it at a lower starting price. But with the Redmi Note 11 Pro series just around the corner, where does the Redmi Note 11S really fit in, and should you even consider it?
Price and variants of the Redmi Note 11S
Let’s start with the different configurations offered. The Redmi Note 11S comes in three variants, starting at Rs. 16,499 for 6GB RAM and 64GB storage; Rs. 17,499 for the same amount of RAM but 128GB of storage; and finally Rs. 18,499 for 8GB RAM and 128GB storage.
Redmi Note 11S theme
The design of the Redmi Note 11S is a bit too boring for my taste. The blue and polar white trim looks a little better in photos, but the black unit I have is just plain boring. The plastic frame and back panel are well made and the phone is quite comfortable to hold. It’s not too heavy at 179 g and it’s not thick either. The main camera sticks out further than the rest of the camera module, making the Redmi Note 11S unstable when you try to use it on a flat surface.
Xiaomi has opted for a 6.43-inch AMOLED display with a fairly high peak brightness of up to a claimed 1000 nits. However, the rest of the specs are nothing special. It has a peak refresh rate of 90Hz, a base sampling rate of 180Hz and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for scratch protection. The Full HD+ resolution ensures sharp images and colors are generally punchy. You’ll need to manually enable the 90Hz refresh rate on the Note 11S as it’s set to 60Hz by default.
The Redmi Note 11S supports two Nano SIM cards and one microSD card, all in the same compartment. The dedicated memory expansion slot comes in handy as the Redmi Note 11S has a maximum of 128GB of built-in memory. The phone also has two speakers, a Type-C port, an IR emitter and a headphone jack. It even has an IP53 rating for water and dust resistance, which is not common at this price point. The box includes a 33W fast charging adapter, a USB Type-C cable, a SIM eject tool and a case.
Specifications and software of the Redmi Note 11S
This phone is powered by the MediaTek Helio G96 SoC, which performs decently but isn’t the most efficient as it’s based on an older 12nm manufacturing process. The Redmi Note 11S supports dual-band Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5 and all basic satellite navigation systems. It also has a 5,000mAh battery, which should at least last you a full day on one charge.
The Redmi Note 11S runs MIUI 13, but this version is still based on Android 11 and not 12. It’s a familiar experience if you’ve used a recent Xiaomi smartphone. All the usual theme options, shortcuts, and gestures are present, along with a ton of preinstalled apps. All third-party apps can be uninstalled, but some first-party apps like Mi Pay cannot.
Performance and battery life of the Redmi Note 11S
The Redmi Note 11S offers enough grunt to handle basic apps and games well. Certain apps in MIUI 13, such as B. GetApps, can be spam. There is a capacitive fingerprint sensor in the power button, which has worked well in my experience. Thanks to the AMOLED panel, you can enjoy a kind of always-on display function. This could have been more useful, but it only stays active for 10 seconds at a time – so it’s not really “always on”.
Videos looked fine on the phone’s display, but stereo audio wasn’t well balanced as the bottom speaker sounded much clearer than the earpiece. Games ran well enough, but some heavy games ran on this phone with limited graphics options. For example, Call of Duty: Mobile didn’t even show the High graphics option, and I couldn’t use most of the advanced quality toggles either. However, the gameplay was smooth, it just didn’t look as good as it normally does.
Xiaomi says it used a liquid cooling system to keep the phone cool even under stress, but after a 30-minute session of Call of Duty, the back and frame still got quite warm. The Redmi Note 11S performed predictably in testing and real-world use given its specs – the benchmark scores were slightly lower than what the Redmi Note 11T 5G achieved with its MediaTek Dimensity 810 SoC. The Note 11S scored 3,10,732 in AnTuTu and ran at 51 fps in GFXBench’s T-Rex test.
Thankfully, the battery life was pretty good. The 5,000 mAh battery easily offered a full day’s runtime even under heavy use. With lighter workloads, you can expect longer elapses between loads. There’s 33W fast charging that helps top up the battery pretty quickly.
Redmi Note 11S cameras
The Redmi Note 11S’s 108-megapixel main camera uses the Samsung HM2 sensor. It takes 12-megapixel pixel-binning photos by default, but you can also take photos at the native 108-megapixel resolution. Under bright sunlight, this camera managed good detail, but the colors in photos looked severely exaggerated with the AI function on or off. The optional Pro Color mode increased the vibrancy even further and made photos look very artificial. Shooting at the full 108-megapixel resolution offered much better detail, but more importantly, colors were better controlled and objects looked far more natural in my tests.
The Redmi Note 11S had a few autofocus issues when taking close-up shots with the main camera, and sometimes it took a few taps on the viewfinder to lock focus correctly. Close-ups looked good in controlled lighting, but colors often fell short in bright sunlight. The main sensor really struggled in low light. Shooting at the full 108MP resolution didn’t help much and my only option was to use night mode. This takes a few seconds longer to capture a shot, but you get slightly better detail and exposure. Surprisingly, you can’t use night mode with the ultra-wide or selfie cameras, which is a real shame.
The 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera has a more restrained color profile when shooting during the day, which is a good thing for once. As expected, low-light photos turned out faint and blurry, with poor color reproduction. The Redmi Note 11S has a basic 2MP macro camera, not the impressive telephoto macro camera we had on the Note 10 Pro series, so the results aren’t as good. There’s also a 2-megapixel depth sensor.
The 16-megapixel selfie camera took decent daytime photos, but I noticed quite a bit of over-sharpening when using Portrait mode on the same frame. Selfies taken indoors were decent, provided there was good ambient lighting, but quality was pretty weak outdoors at night.
The Redmi Note 11S can only record videos up to 1080p, with stabilization, but the quality was strictly average even when shooting in broad daylight. In low light, the quality was really poor and not up to the mark for a phone in this segment.
The Redmi Note 11S feels like a stopgap until the Redmi Note 11 Pro series launches, and if you’ve already got your heart set on a Redmi phone, last year’s Redmi Note 10 Pro actually offers a better value- money . The 108 megapixel camera is the main selling point of this phone. It can take good photos if you’re shooting at the native resolution during the day, but otherwise, like the rest of the sensors, it’s strictly average. The SoC isn’t particularly powerful for a phone in this price range, and the lack of 5G doesn’t help it either.
I think it would be best to wait a while before making a decision to buy this phone as better options are sure to come out soon.
For details on the latest Nokia, Samsung, Lenovo and other product launches from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, visit our MWC 2022 hub.